So I got up at "o'dark thirty" to get a morning flight from LAX to Phoenix ... and after experiencing the worst ever TSA-karma I ended up missing the flight and am stuck in the airport waiting for the next (four hours later) flight. That's the bad news.
The good news is there's coffee, wifi and some unexpected elbow room in my day. Which adds up to a blog waiting to happen.
And let me just start by saying what a privilege it is to be heading to this meeting of the House of Bishops.
No. I mean really.
I'm going -- along with my Standing Commission on Liturgy & Music (SCLM) task force colleagues -- to make a presentation tomorrow morning about the work we are doing to implement resolution C056 calling for "a renewed pastoral response from this Church, and for an open process for the consideration of theological and liturgical resources for the blessing of same gender relationships ..." and charging the SCLM "in consultation with the House of Bishops, collect and develop theological and liturgical resources, and report to the 77th General Convention."
And what a difference a couple of decades make! I'm remembering my first General Convention in 1991 ... in Phoenix, ironically enough! ... where the House of Bishops still met sitting in rows by order of seniority, where +Barbara Harris was the only woman in the house and where then-PB Ed Browing had to close the gallery and send all of us observers out of the room because even discussing the issue of human sexuality became so heated that the bishops needed to fight it out behind closed doors.
The "Bishops Only" sign above pretty much said it all.
I'm also remembering June 2003 when then-Integrity President Michael Hopkins and I were "invited" to meet with the House of Bishops Theology Committee that had been charged with coming up with a theology on human sexuality. I put "invited" in quotes because it took some jumping up and down before we were finally invited into a process that had been going on for quite some time behind quite closed doors and with absolutely no consultation -- much less collaboration -- with anyone of the gay and lesbian sort. (See again: "Bishops Only.")
So we schlepped to Seabury Western. We waited outside in the hallway until we were finally summoned in. (They were sorry to keep us waiting but they were running late.) And we spent an hour in conversation and they thanked us for our time. And at this point I can't remember whether we ever got a report or not.
And that was then and this is now. This is -- or at least I believe it has the possibility to be -- a whole new way of doing business with our bishops. Because as stoked as I am about the charge of General Convention 2009 via C056 to "collect and develop [long overdue] theological resources" AS important as resources we will collect and develop is the process that's been crafted for that collection and development.
It is definitely not bishops-behind-closed doors.
And it is no longer the LGBT faithful in the role of strangers at the gate standing outside of the process while their lives, relationships and vocations are reduced to an "issue to be studied" or a "problem to be solved."
It is -- as "resolved" by General Convention -- work being done "by the SCLM in consultation with the House of Bishops [to] devise an open process for the conduct of its work inviting participation from provinces, dioceses, congregations, and individuals ..."
Just like the "gifts of God for the people of God" this is the "work of God with the people of God." Like I said ... what a difference a couple of decades make!
And I hope ... no, check that ... I TRUST that in the days and weeks and months ahead we can model for the whole church what can happen when the whole church engages in the process of theological reflection.
What can happen as we move past arguing about whether same sex couples are entitled to equal blessings from the church of their already-equally-blessed-by-God relationships and move forward with common prayer resources for those who choose to be on the right side of history on equality for the LGBT baptized.
And -- most important of all -- what will happen to our mission and ministry when we finally become the church the signs outside our buildings say we are: The Episcopal Church [that] Welcomes You ... and shift our focus away from those few who threaten to leave if we include everybody and concentrate instead on the many who are waiting for us to tell them it is safe to come in!
So this is me. Blessed to be House of Bishops bound. And I do mean "really!"